Police recovered the white BMW 520d used in the brutal murder of 44-year-old loan shark Tan Aik Chai in Taman Pelangi, Johor Baru, 10 days ago after receiving a tip-off from the public at 3pm on Dec 26.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd said the vehicle was left abandoned at an oil palm estate in Air Baloi, Pontian, by the suspects after the Dec 17 incident.
The car was stripped of its registration number plates.
However, on-location police forensics team managed to confirm that the vehicle, a 2015 BMW 520d bearing registration WB79L, was a legally registered car and the stamped numbers were not tampered with. Its road tax is also valid until Nov 6 next year.
Mohd Khalil said the recovery of the car was a positive step in investigations as it was among one of the two murder weapons used, the other being the knife which is yet to be recovered.
“Police will also revisit investigations into the ownership of the car by interviewing the owner as investigations revealed that the car was legally registered and not a stolen or a scrapped car,” Mohd Khalil said
Initial investigations showed that the 55-year-old owner was indeed the legal owner of the car and had also lodged a police report in Ipoh on Dec 18 to deny he had any links to the case.
“The special investigations task force will be quizzing the car owner who is based in Kampong Bercham in Ipoh on his relationship with the car.
“Investigators are also keen to look into the background of the car owner as he is said to be a labourer and it does not add up that he is using a car with a RM230,000 market value,” the Malay Mail quoted sources saying.
It was previously reported that the car had missed several months of instalments with a local bank.
For a car repossessor to legally seize and return a car, much paperwork is required and the fee depends on how many instalments the owner had failed to pay.
It is believed the owner may be used by syndicates to apply for a car loan through forged documents and the car would be leased out so the “new” owners would continue to service monthly instalments without changing ownership.
The syndicates are brokers who look for interested parties to continue to service a car’s monthly instalments for a fee, with the understanding that the vehicle’s ownership will not be changed until the loan tenure ends.
Apparently, car repossessors and underworld gang members are linked to this service as a means of “helping” the car owners who cannot afford their monthly instalments due to financial constraints.
Another possibility was the car was due to be repossessed, but the repossessors had leased it out to interested parties for a fee.
Car repossessors, commonly known as Mat Repo, also offer options such as purchasing a car sticker for RM250 with a monthly fee of RM100 for the owner to continue using the vehicle without the threat of it being repossessed.
Another option was by way of loan continuation where the vehicle is offered to a new owner who will have to settle the arrears as down payment plus a fee and continue the monthly instalment.
This is a breach of Section 38 of the Hire-Purchase Act 1967 as any vehicle under hire-purchase cannot be re-leased to another party.
Police have nabbed another male suspect in connection with the case, with the latest arrest bringing the total suspects to 15 people.
Four of the 15 suspects – three male and one female – have been released.
The remaining 11, consisting of eight men and three women, are still under investigation.
Police are making efforts to track down another three male suspects – including the prime suspect – who were directly linked to the murder.